A 25-year tradition helps wipe away drama of divorce

By Rob LeDonne

Divorce can be one of the most isolating, stressful processes a person can go through in their entire life. Along with the emotional toll from a dissolution of a marriage, there are a variety of important factors and decisions that need to be made, many of them difficult. Fortunately for North County residents, for the past 20 years there’s been a useful aide for those going through a divorce. It’s called Second Saturday Divorce Workshops, and so far it’s changed thousands of people’s lives in a positive and meaningful way.

Elizabeth Bryan, a multi-talented writer who co-authored the popular book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings,” knows all too well about the rigors of divorce. “Throughout the my own journey, I was raising three boys and realized I was playing a sort of secondary role in my former marriage. When I got a divorce, I went overnight from having a nice lifestyle to becoming completely penniless.” Still picking up the pieces from what became a lengthy and costly process, she discovered Second Saturday and now is a featured speaker at every meeting.

“I went to the first one and told my story, because I’m the kind of woman that you could go ‘What does she have to worry about it?’ That couldn’t be further from the truth. I open the event, and from the moment I start talking, people break down and start to cry; they are so raw, terrified and starving for information.”

Unbiased information is exactly what people can expect, and lots of it thanks to a bevy of rotating attorneys, mediators and counselors. Each person speaks for about 60 minutes, followed by a question and answer session, and Bryan notes it’s all an “empowering process to learn about the different options you have.”

So empowering that Second Saturday has been going strong since 1988 thanks to Carmel Valley’s Ginita Wall (CPA, CFP, CDFA) and Carlsbad resident Candace Bahr (CEA, CDFA), the founders of the event, as well as the organization that puts it together, dubbed WIFE (or Women’s Institute for Financial Education). Bahr, who currently runs a financial planning and investment management firm, explained the genesis of Second Saturday: “I was reading an article in the newspaper in 1988 that said women’s financial situations decrease dramatically after divorce. I thought we could make a significant difference in people’s lives, since this teaches people how to work effectively, and make a decision whether they even should be divorcing in the first place.”

Bahr’s quick to point out that the price of the six-hour long workshop ($45) hasn’t increased since its launch, and that it’s all not-for-profit.

“After expenses, all of the proceeds go into the community for scholarships. Everyone is a volunteer at the program, no one is getting paid.”

In addition, a second visit is $25 and participants can bring a friend for free. Second Saturday, which has separate workshops for women and men (both taking place on Mira Costa College’s San Elijo campus), attracts a wide variety of people, from multi-millionaires to people living out of their cars, all there for a single purpose. Sums up Bryan: “The tools you get are invaluable. We all have these feelings of fear, but there is hope.”

The next Second Saturday takes place on Oct. 13. For more information, call Ginita Wall at (858) 792-0524 or visit them on the web:

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